Monday, November 25, 2013

Brazilians Get 4 Weeks Extra World Cup Holiday

Fuleco, aka. Tatu Bola is the official World Cup mascot. He will not get any holiday during FIFA 2014. 

So, it is official. Brazil has gone mad.

Not only will the country with the financially challenged economy host both the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, the government will now also give citizens up to four weeks of holiday during the World Cup! Imagine the cost to the economy of that.

The federal government has declared general law (The Law of World Cup, Article 56) and passed on the power to decide on the extent of the holiday during the World Cup to each and every state (there are twenty-six states (estado) and one federal distric (distrito federal)), according to the newspaper Globo.

Some of the states (Rio Grande do Norte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo) have already decided to give citizens the full month as holiday, except for two working days. Other states have yet to decide. And I can only guess that workers elsewhere will demand the same.

- Mom, he got candy. I want some too!

Simple psychology, really.

The text of the law doesn't even limit the power to declare holidays to the states. As it says in the law, according to Google translate, "The Union, the States, the Federal District and the Municipalities that will host events may declare holidays the days of its occurrence in its territory". Four bodies of government? That is pretty much anyone. It ought to be an easy decision for a governor or a mayor who wants a little bit of short-lived World Cup glory.

And they already have 30 days holiday. Plus...
The normal holiday in Brazil is already a hefty 30 working days. Plus (yes, there is even a plus) religious holidays! Then again, if you are to define anything as religion in this country, it's got to be football. I am surprised that the Jesus statue overlooking Rio hasn't been replaced by one of Pele. It may only be a matter of time. I almost forgot. There's even one more plus. Additional non-religious holidays. Maybe I should move to Brazil...

18 extra days off is a 60% increase. I’d be pretty happy being an employee. I’d be rather mad if I were an employer. Then again, I might not be happy for long as an employee. The risk is that the employer will go bankrupt. The Brazilian economy is already in trouble.

The football (read as soccer, dear American friends) competition which takes place from June 12 to July 13 next year is estimated to cost 15 billion USD! But the organizers are in a hurry, and the government is desperate to not have everything go smoothly. Or the Olympic summer games two years later may be in jeopardy too.

So the price tag will probably increase a lot, due to a lack of time. You won't exactly have time to release tenders or arrange bidding contests.

Any chance of a little bit of FIFA corruption, there? Famous former Brazilian national footballer Romario certainly calls faul play. He even goes as far as calling FIFA President Sepp Blatter "a thief" and secretary general Jerome Valcke "a blackmailer", accoring to Winnipeg Free Press.

"Brazilian authorities shouldn't trust (Valcke) when signing any deal related to the World Cup", Ronaldo said. He won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994. He certainly is older, more experienced and far more outspoken now.

I doubt that the real books are entirely open when it comes to how infrastructure was built, by whom and how much they charged.

How to afford it?
The Economist has not yet, to my knowledge, written about sending the entire country away on holiday, but the newspaper is worried about Brazil's economy in general.

"...the country has come back down to earth with a bump." The Economist states and refers to the fantastic growth of 7.5% in 2010. Last year the economy barely grew at all. By 0.9%. 15 billion USD for a football competition, and much more for the most expensive holiday ever may not be the best of cures.

Four years ago one of the newspaper's artists put a rocket on the Jesus statue in Rio to illustrate economic growth. That rocket may now have misfired. Not many months have passed since hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in unprecedented demonstrations. They complained about greed, corruption and services that don't match the high living costs.

President Dilma Rousseff is not the most popular woman in town. I am not sure if giving four weeks of extra holiday is the way to go. Even though the presidential elections are coming up. Coincidentally in October, after the World Cup.

So, should you worry about more protests during the World Cup, now when so many people are out on the streets with nothing to do during their holidays? I don't think the stadiums can hold 200 million people, so there may be some drunk, broke and angry football fans out and about. Well, rest assured. Ricardo Trade, the CEO of the World Cup has asked any potential protesters to not hurt the tourists, according to The Raw Story. I guess you'll be just fine, then.


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  3. Gunnar, I am brazilian, from Rio, and I work for the federal government. I've never heard about a full month holiday in Rio de Janeiro or in any other state. As long as I know, we'll have the afternoons off during Brazil's matches, as every World Cup.
    The general law you mention in this article gives the possibility to declare holiday just in the days Brazil will play. And, yes, we have four spheres of government that can declare holiday (and do other things), and this is specially important to the cities that will host matches because here is still impossible to hold a big event like World Cup or the Olympics and keep the regular routine of traffic (that is already a mess). I am sorry about that. Not just about the traffic, but because we, brazilians, will be actually working hard during the Cup.

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  5. Hi Luana,

    The General Law is here, even in English.

    "Art. 56 - The Union may declare as holidays the days of matches of the Brazilian National Team.
    Sole paragraph. The States, the Federal District and the municipalities which will host the Events may declare as holidays or as of optional work the days of matches in their territories.
    This is an admission that the urban mobility works won't be ready for the Cup, and the current mobility infrastructure can't cope with the high number of visitors to those host cities.
    By declaring holidays, residents of the host cities will not have to commute to work, so relieving the transportation infrastructure."

    You will, if I understand it correctly, get the days that Brazil plays off. Do also note: "The States, the Federal District and the municipalities which will host the Events may declare as holidays or as of optional work the days of matches in their territories."

    Which, again as far I understand, will lead to people in some states only having to work two days during the World Cup. There sure are a lot of relevant laws on this issue in your country...

  6. Hi Gunnar - I'm not sure this is right. What Luana says is that Brazilians will have a holiday when the Brazilian team are playing. Even if they go all the way through the tournament and win it (not unlikely) they won't be playing every day for 4 weeks! If I remember the tournament structure correctly (maybe not), there are 3 group games, a second round, quarter final, semi final and final. Maximum of 7 games.

    So I'm not sure how we get from there to "have already decided to give citizens the full month as holiday".

  7. Hi Tom,

    Do note the following, which comes in addition: "The States, the Federal District and the municipalities which will host the Events may declare as holidays or as of optional work the days of matches in their territories."

    According to my sources, at least one state (Rio Grande do Norte) has already decided to give such holidays so that it amounts to every day but two for the duration of the World Cup. That virtually equals one month. The two other states mentioned have reportedly taken similar measures.

  8. Yes Tom. You are right!
    Gunnar, i understand your reasoning, and the law allows holidays. But, for example, if there is a match in Sao Paulo, people from Rio (and everywhere else) will work. If there is a match in Rio, just people who work in the city of Rio MAY have holiday. The exception is when Brazil plays: we all have the day off. (Note that where I work - federal government-, if the match is in the afternoon, we will work in the morning).
    So, that's it. (Un)Fortunately most of us won't enjoy holidays during all the Cup.

  9. Luana,

    The reason for the General Law is as follows:
    "This is an admission that the urban mobility works won't be ready for the Cup, and the current mobility infrastructure can't cope with the high number of visitors to those host cities.By declaring holidays, residents of the host cities will not have to commute to work, so relieving the transportation infrastructure."

    And, again: "The States, the Federal District and the municipalities which will host the Events may declare as holidays or as of optional work the days of matches in their territories."

    Most of them have yet to do so. The amount of holiday in different states is therefore not clear yet, although Rio Grande do Norte has allegedly already been given every day of the World Cup as holiday, except two.

    Some people will probably get more holiday than others. How much in each area remains to be seen.

  10. Luana,

    I understand your and Tom's point about not all brazilians enjoying the hole month as holidays during the World Cup. But I live in Curitiba and there will be games on jun 16, 20, 23 and 26. Our Chamber haven't decided yet about giving us holidays on these days or not. Then you can add holidays when Brazil will play (first round), on jun 12 and 17. And even more: I read about some cities in Northeast that are giving holidays just because of the magnitude of the event (I think - and hope - that states will declare it unconstitutional)!
    So, just in first round, in 11 working days, we would lose 6 working days... Isn't it too much? And as far as I remember, even without some specific regulation by each and every state in Confederations Cup, everything was closing.... I was doing my Master in USP and I didn't even have classes because of it.
    Germany and South Africa didn't give holidays not even when their own team was playing. I can't say about South Africa, but Germany certainly could have more holidays than us. So I agree: Brazil has gone mad.

    1. Priscila, I agree that 6 in 11 days are too much! But can you imagine a regular work day in Rio (or Curitiba) at the same time of an important match in Maracanã (or Arena da Baixada) at 18:00?? People finishing work, trying to go home, tourists everywhere.. All I can imagine is that I wouldn't like to be around.. Holidays are needed because of the terrible traffic structure we have, so different from Germany....

    2. I know.... I do understand and also agree about our issue in urban mobility. But what about our economy and all these days off? My family has business - such as stores (wholesale and retail), imports and exports - and we are really concerned about impacts of these days off. What are our priorities? We had the worst performance from BRICS in 2010, 2011 and 2012... What about next year? What about all these white elephants that the government is building? We had time, we have money and we didn't do anything. Instead: we did the craziest law I've ever seen: General Law.
      I couldn't, I can't and I definitely won't understand why so many people are happy about World Cup in here. Maybe the reason is specifically the General Law, who knows?

    3. Hi Priscila (and Hi Gunnar!),

      I certainly agree that having lots of days off is going to hurt Brazil's economy - in that sense I agree that this is crazy. It still seems a big exaggeration (perhaps a bit sensationalist) to say that "everyone will get the whole month of the World Cup as holiday". Pick any single state and they will get the Brazil games (max 7) plus the games played in that state's stadium (of course this won't apply for states that don't have a WC stadium!". This is a long, long way from the *whole* of Brazil having the *whole* WC as holiday.

      Gunnar - the quote you are using "This is an admission that the urban mobility works won't be ready..." is nothing official - it's just the opinion of whoever translated the details of the law (at As you said yourself in your most recent comment "The amount of holiday in different states is therefore not clear yet" so you can't really say that "everyone in Brazil" will get anything because we're still waiting to find out!

      I agree with your sentiment (lots of public holidays is a bad idea for Brazil's economy and it reflects the fact that they aren't confident that their transport infrastructure will be able to cope with the demands of WC). But that is still a long way from what you actually said in your post.

    4. Hi Priscila and Tom,

      I have changed the wording slightly, in the main opening paragraph, but the essence of the post is the same.

  11. Tom,

    Okay, I see your point. Totally agree, if we were in a serious country. The General Law is already giving too many holidays. But more than this: we have so much inconstitutionals laws in here that I've seen already cities (without stadium, and consequently not mentioned on GL) that approved holidays. I hope all of them will be declared inconstitucionals or at least taking into the court in a ADI.

    And that quote may be taken from some experts, as you can read right below(I won't translate their words):
    "Orlando Alves dos Santos Junior, doutor em planejamento urbano e regional e professor da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, reforça que a crise de mobilidade experimentada pelos turistas durante a JMJ é experimentada pela população todos os dias, e que ela vai além da entrega ou não dos projetos prometidos na área pelo governo para Copa. Ele realizou uma visita técnica ao BRT na Barra e chegou à conclusão de que se trata de um sistema que já nasce "obsoleto". Para ele, o debate em torno do calendário das obras para os megaeventos funciona apenas para excluir da agenda a discussão sobre a eficiência desses projetos. A implantação deles ainda causaram grandes impactos, como as remoções.

    "O argumento da pressa [para entregar melhorias para a Copa] é usado e acionado para justificar a ausência de um debate democrático da fiscalização, dos procedimentos. Eu acho que o Rio vive uma crise de mobilidade grave, que não vai se resolver sem uma discussão aprofundada sobre esses projetos que estão sendo construídos". Orlando ressalta problemas no projeto dos BRTs, o primeiro seria relacionado ao fato de estarem concentrados na Zona Sul, Barra e Centro da cidade, o segundo seria a concentração dos investimentos apenas na cidade e não no entorno; e o terceiro as falhas em termos da integração dos diferentes modais de transportes.

    Gerônimo Leitão, professor da Escola de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal Fluiminense (UFF), alerta para o caso dos Jogos Panamericanos de 2007, que não teriam deixado nenhum legado prometido em mobilidade urbana e em outras questões. "A mobilidade ainda é algo crítico no caso do Rio. Há uma expectativa no que diz respeito a essas intervenções serem cumpridas. A Transcarioca resolve, mas uma 'andorinha só não faz verão'".

    As obras prometidas como legado da Copa, acredita Mário Beni, professor de Turismo da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) e da Universidade de Brasília (UnB), não atingem nem 30% do que era necessário. "Esse [mobilidade urbana] foi um item da Copa que pouco se fez. Eu até me surpreendi com os demais itens, mas mobilidade realmente eu diria que no geral não chegou a 30% do que se deveria chegar", afirma."

  12. As a lawyer and a brazilian, I can safely say: nothing you said could be further from the truth.

    Which makes me think: what do you really know about the countries u visited and writes about?

    But I'm not disappointed. What to expect from someone who visits five continents in one day besides shallow ideas and the false sense of knowing someting?

    Credibility crisis on the horizon.


  13. Attractive title, bad content. You should read brazilians´ comments, do better research, correct the wrong content, respect your readers. Take care of understanding the text of the federal law and read carefully the word MAY. We could have holidays but our economy needs more than a World Cup to run so it's up to employers give or not the day off. It´s holiday on the openning game and finals, if we have brazilian team on that, 99% of probability we get another holiday.

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